When the 1996 presidential candidate Pat Buchanan proposed a barrier along the Southern border, he met criticism and condemnation from various individuals, mainly in politics, economists and human rights groups. However, after the immigration surge of 1999-2001 and the 9/11 attacks, the idea of erecting a physical wall in America’s southern border attracted both criticism and support (Chacón 1827). The debate concerns whether building a physical wall along the 2,000 miles long border will reduce the rate of illegal immigration and related problems such as the increasing drug and weapon trade and human trafficking (Chacón 1827). Arguably, the barrier will provide an effective wall to keep away the Mexican and Latin illegal immigrants and reduce the economic loss that the US has been incurring when searching, arresting, holding, and deporting illegal immigrants.
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Analysis of the issue
The Secure Fence Act of 2006 authorizes the creation of a physical barrier along the Mexican-American border (Chacón 1827). It also authorizes the installation of a virtual fence comprised of sensors, surveillance cameras as well as other technologies to cover the parts of the border that do not have a physical barrier.
Critics argue that erecting the wall will not be effective because the illegal immigrants will use seas routes, underground tunnels, and other volatile points. They also cite the huge costs of erecting the barrier along the wall. In addition, critics state that the physical barrier “…will obstruct human rights…especially because the Native Americans and Hispanics living in the affected areas will be separated from their families and friends…” (Gilman 12). In his speech, President George W. Bush stated that “…this will help in protecting the American people and brings immigration reforms…” Thus, it is clear that the intention of this statute is to ensure that the current problems associated with illegal immigration from the south are solved.
It is estimated that the US has more than 10 million illegal immigrants and the annual influx of these aliens ranges between 250,000 and 400,000 (Gilman 21). Moreover, statistics indicate that more than 80% of these individuals use the Mexican-America border to cross into the country (Gilman 21). Therefore, it is clear that the problems associated with illegal immigration are contributed by the volatility of the southern border.
Statistics also indicate that a good number of immigrants come into the country to look for job opportunities, yet the US has a rising rate of unemployment (Gilman 21). Currently, American youths are not assured of decent jobs after graduation. The current economic problems do not allow the US to support, employ, and give decent lifestyles to the aliens because the American citizens are already suffering (Sterling 42). In fact, most of the immigrants are ready to take any form of employment in the US because the low-paying jobs in the country have more attractive wages than some decent jobs in the South American nations. The long-term impact is that unemployment rates will increase because the aliens are increasingly providing cheap and available labor. In addition, companies and individuals are likely to take this advantage and hire the aliens because they are not only readily available but also cheap. In addition, they do not form trade unions (Gilman 18). This means that the employers are free to hire and fire the aliens at their own will. Currently, the best way to solve this problem is to erect the physical and virtual barriers along the volatile border.
Corruption, high rates of unemployment the poverty and unemployment force individuals in Latin America to look for better conditions in the US. Due to America’s strict immigration laws and procedures, most people willing to enter the country opt for the alternative- crossing the border illegally (Chacón 1827). However, they cannot cross the border alone. In Mexico and other Latin American nations, cartels have taken advantage of the situation to solicit money from the hopeful immigrants in return for easy pass through the volatile parts of the border. There have been several reports that the aliens who refuse to give money or sexual favors are tortured and sometimes killed before they can cross the border. These actions are inhuman and violate the rights of would-be immigrants. To protect the rights of these people, it is important to erect the barrier and make it known to the people in these nations that the border cannot be used for illegal immigration. In this way, the cartels will find other things to do and stop violating the rights of innocent people.
Some critics argue that the US, like China, Rome and other old empires that built walls before they collapsed, is repeating the history of the failed kingdoms of the ancient times (Sterling 58). Nevertheless, the critics fail to understand that the purpose of erecting the so-called the Great Wall of the US is different from the motives that the ancient China and Rome had when erecting physical walls. While those empires desired to protect their sovereignties from the invasion of the external militaries, America is trying to protect her people from the social, economic and security problems. In addition, America has established other ways of allowing people to settle and work in the country, unlike the old empires that were purely trying to keep away foreign tribes and nations. Thus, the barrier is just a method of solving the problems the country is currently facing.
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In conclusion, it is clear that the benefits of a physical wall outweigh the negative impacts because the barrier will provide solutions to a myriad of social, economic and security problems associated with illegal immigration.
Chacón, Jennifer. “Unsecured Borders: Immigration Restrictions, Crime Control and National Security”. Conn. L. Rev. 39. 2 (2006): 1827. Print.
Gilman, Denise. Obstructing human rights: The Texas-Mexico border wall. New York: Springer, 2012. Print.
Sterling, Brent L. Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors? What History Teaches Us about Strategic Barriers and International Security? Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2012. Print.